As if just being Susie Bright didn't make her cool enough, everyone's favorite sexpert has an interview with one of my other literary heroes, Alan Moore, about The Lost Girls, which I blogged about before. Susie gets to have all the fun. Dammit. She's also put together a Flickr gallery of Melinda Gebbie's work. I've never seen Gebbie's stuff before, but the excerpts from The Lost Girls are breathtaking examples of erotic art. The problem with trying to portray eroticism is that you're trying to capture an incomprehensible mix of contradictions; our society is big on the idea that mind and body are two entirely different things; the body is just a meat vehicle for the mind, which is the real "you." Sex gives the lie to that. Men's tendency to name their cocks and call them the "little head" is a good example of how divorced our sense of self is from our physical being. Gebbie's art — for instance, her depiction of Dorothy captured in a swirling orgasmic "tornado" that turns her sense of reality upside down — is sensual, colorful, and shows how sex merges the fantastic and the real, and how inseperable it makes your body and mind.
This is going to be a hell of a book. I can't wait to get my hands on it.
SB: How do you work together? Did you comment or fiddle around with each other’s medium— did Mel write or did you draw?
AM: Very few people know how it worked. This project was unique in my career. Normally, for the last 25 years of my work, there’s distance between myself and the illustrator— they lived one place, I lived in another.. I’d write these very long scripts, with detailed descriptions: how many panels are needed on this page, a rundown of each descriptions, DOP shots, atmosphere, acting, etc. I would be open to their me ideas, but the dye was basically set.
In the beginning with Mel, I gave her these sort of scripts, designed to break an artist spirit— (LOL). She found wading through my acres of notes really tedious. Ever the one to be obliging… I did thumbnail sketches of what I wanted with her by my side, talking and brainstorming. Then she created wonderful pages of artwork, based on my hieroglyphics. I would then put dialog in, influenced by her drawings. It was an ongoing conversation.
SB: I know it's awful to play favorites, but i couldn't help loving Dorothy's character the most of all. Is it because I'm American, or what do you think?
AM: Oh, she's the most feisty, the most adventurous, she’s also incredibly gorgeous. Her illustration reminds me of Clara Bow, who was always one of Melinda’s favorite.
We spent so much time decoding these characters. We wanted familiarity, but radical new interpretations.
SB: Why is your project so controversial in some comics circles? Isn't that a little old? When Wimmin’s Comix came out in the 70s, THAT was shocking— that women made explicit sex pictures and stories. They were two decades ahead of their time.
So now…. with The Lost Girls, why would we think that the audience is scandalized? Do people still think comics are Superman eunuchs? Certainly the fans can't feel that way…
AM: I don't get it, either. Robert Crumb was a pioneer of the kind of stuff we’re doing, and 40 years ago people would say the same scandalized things. We have a current social panic going on, but how we can forget what we’ve just been through?
Ever since the outset of my career, where it was appropriate, I have treated the characters I worked with as fully rounded personalities, having some sort of sexuality would be an important to a personality! Even with The Swamp Thing, decomposed vegetable matter, he should have a sexual life of some kind! Erotic experience is going to be part of any fully-rounded character.
If Lost Girls is shocking, it's because I’ve gotten rid of heroes. We're talking about sex, frankly, at greater length, and it's sustained work of erotica. I've put more of myself on the line.